Creative Heroes: Tyler Mitchell

Tyler Mitchell is renowned for his captivating film and photography work. Here, as part of our Creative Heroes series for our 40th birthday celebrations, Mitchell talks to us about his career milestones and his journey so far

Tyler Mitchell has the world at his feet, but it’s been a considered journey to get to this point. At just 25, the US photographer and filmmaker has created an acclaimed portfolio, shaped culture and made history. In recent years, he has produced a breathtaking range of personal work, and commissions for notable brands, publications and artists.

He arrived on the world stage after his American Vogue photoshoot with Beyoncé in 2018, which saw him become the first Black photographer in the magazine’s 125-year history to create the cover, and one of the youngest ever, too. Mitchell followed this achievement with the release of an extensive body of work, I Can Make You Feel Good, setting the world alight with his interpretation of a “Black visual utopia”.

Many often shrug off the success of young artists, insisting that a lasting legacy can only be built after decades of influencing culture. Yet Mitchell’s status didn’t come overnight, his every move having involved meticulous decision-making about what future he wants for himself – and for others. This careful focus is perhaps the product of growing up in the internet age, where countless high-profile figures rush projects or succumb to the drama of living out their lives online. Neither outcomes seem likely for Mitchell, whose thoughtfulness is testament to his clarity of vision.

Whether through ground-breaking exhibitions, intimate livestreams, or the release of his debut monograph, Mitchell is inviting the world into a space where his ideas are free to expand and contract organically across different mediums. Here, he takes us through his multidisciplinary process, and the landmark moments of his life and career so far.

Top: Skateboarders in Havana, Cuba on the inaugural national Go Skateboarding Day, 2015; Above: Untitled (Group Hula Hoop), 2019. All images: Tyler Mitchell

The 1990s

Tyler Mitchell grew up as an only child in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. Contrary to the typical narrative of creatives, his household wasn’t filled with architects or theatre producers or sculptors. “Neither of my parents were artists. Nobody in my family was involved in art or anything creative,” he says. “Everything was fairly practical.